All About the Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court
- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - April 2019
In South Africa, the court system works in tiers, with the Constitutional Court sitting atop the pyramid as the highest court in the land, as established by the Constitution of South Africa. As stated by the Superior Courts Act, this court has the power or jurisdiction to hear a matter of any kind so long as it serves the interests of justice. The court itself is located in Johannesburg in a complex called Constitution Hill.
The 11 judges that preside over the Constitutional Court are always appointed by the President and it is an immense and responsibility to sit on the bench here for 12 the years allowed to each judge. All judgments made here are considered the supreme law of the land, and therefore everyone in the land is subject to the rulings of the Constitutional Court. The put this in perspective, the Constitutional Court has the power to overturn acts of Parliament if it is found to be in violation of the Constitution. It should be noted that this court does not work like ordinary courts, and therefore it does not hear evidence or question witnesses. It focuses solely on interpreting the Constitution and ensuring that the law acts in accordance with it.
The second most powerful court, directly under the Constitutional Court is the Supreme Court of Appeal. This court has the power to overturn and repeal any decision that has been made by a High Court, and it is the final stop for the appeals process. For example, should someone be found guilty of a crime in lower court, they may appeal to the High Court and should the outcome to that appeal not be favourable they may take their case to The Supreme Court of Appeal. After this only the Constitutional Court has the right to change a decision made by this court.
These two courts have contributed vastly to the South African legal landscape through their judgments, often opening the door for new interpretations of the law.
If you have any questions related to the supreme court of appeal or their constitutional court and their respective processes do not hesitate to contact us and will be put you in touch with a legal professional that can assist.